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Strangford DUP MLA Michelle McIlveen who also Chairs the Northern Ireland Assembly Infrastructure Committee, has reiterated the need for support to be offered to bus and coach tour operators who have seen their business hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NI Assembly recently passed a motion by the Infrastructure Committee calling on the Minister for Infrastructure to bring forward proposals for the formulation of guidance and financial support for these sectors.

Michelle McIlveen, alongside DUP Infrastructure Committee member Keith Buchanan, have been speaking with representatives of the sector and they have also requested a meeting with the DfI Minister.

Michelle McIlveen said,

“Like other industries, bus and coach operators have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many cannot access support directed at the leisure sector. These issues have been raised by the Infrastructure Committee, but they need support beyond regulatory issues which has been offered to date.

Industry representatives are crying out for assistance. Debates over which Minister has sole responsibility miss the point. There is a need for the DfI Minister to engage with the sector, identify the problem and bring forward proposals to Executive colleagues.

I look forward to meeting with representatives from the industry to discuss the plight they still face. Whilst some sectors have begun to rebuild, realistically it could be 2021 before coach operators see a resumption of business to anywhere near viable levels.

Like other areas such as the resumption of driving tests, there is a need for leadership and guidance to be given to this sector.”

Note to readers

Schedules 1 and 3 of Budget Act 2020 allocate money to Infrastructure for transport licensing, enforcement and regulation as well as support for transport services including grants in respect of rail and road passenger services.